LA Loses Two Hip Hop Icons-The Nation Loses a Freedom Fighter
By Davey D
original article-May 05, 2006
The city of Angels is in mourning as it has lost not one but two iconic figures within a week. In fact both passed away on the same day Saturday April 30th.
The first was DJ Dusk a well known member of the Universal Zulu Nation and an incredible DJ whose most recent exploits had him spinning every Thursday night at Rootdown at a club called Little Temple. Over the years Dusk made a huge impact for not only being an incredible diversified DJ who could spin everything from Salsa to Hip Hop to Reggae, he also made inroads on the radio. I believe he got down at Pacifica’s KPFK. He was one of those deejays who kept himself rooted in the community and tried to make a difference.
The circumstances surrounding Dusk’s death speak volumes to the type of man he was. The way it was explained to me, was He had a gathering of close family and friends at his home and was walking a woman back to her car when an out of control driver sped towards her. The woman was destined to be hit when Dusk leaped to her rescue. He pushed her out the way and tucked his head down to take the full impact of the vehicle which he knew would hit him. He was dragged for about 80 yards as the driver tried to escape. Luckily an alert passerby swung their pick up truck in front of the driver and prevented him from leaving. I’m not too sure about what sort of charges if any will be levied on the driver.
Last night (Thursday) all sorts of folks including Dusk’s family came out to the Little Temple to pay respects. People tried to stay upbeat, but in reality it was sad. It was sad to see his family experiencing such a major loss. It was sad to see those close to him holding it together, putting on a brave face, but inside mourning and missing Dusk greatly.
Ironically, the last time I saw Dusk was three weeks ago when he put together the annual tribute for DJ Rob One another iconic DJ from LA who passed away from brain cancer 5 years ago. Lots of people from all over including Hip Hop pioneer Prince Whipper Whip flew in from Michigan to pay tribute. The loss of Rob One, although 5 years later seemed to still be fresh on a lot of people’s minds. Dusk was the perfect host as he meticulously pulled old mixtapes and drops for the late DJ and played them for the audience. He wanted to make sure that a cat like Rob who meant so much to so many people would not be forgotten. He wanted to make sure that that those who attended would strive for the excellence that Rob One came to represent.
I’m sure no one in their wildest dreams would’ve thought we’d all be back at Rootdown paying tribute to DJ Dusk. It’s a sad thing and just underscored the importance of us not to take anything for granted.
As I sat at the bar listening to them play two of Dusk’s mixtapes… ‘Top Ranking’, a classic reggae and dancehall CD and ‘La Musica’ a classic Salsa CD, it hit me just how harsh this past year has been in terms of untimely deaths.
First it was J-Dilla, then it was Professor X and later on we lost Proof. We just lost Big Hawk down in Houston. We lost Taurus aka T who was hype man for The Coup. Atlanta rap star T.I. had his van shot up and lost one of his peoples. On top of that we lost LA Hip Hop pioneer Mixmaster Spade, Crip Founder turned Peacemaker Stanley Tookie Williams, C. Delores Tucker who fought to clean up the filth in the music industry, Rosa Parks the mother of the Civil Rights Movement and Coretta Scott King the first Lady of the Civil Rights Movement and widow to Martin Luther King. It seems like we were just talking about losing comedian Richard Pryor and heck it just a year ago I recall getting that painful phone call from Red Alert telling me that Justo Faison who was the deejays biggest advocate was killed in a car crash. Thats an awful lot of people who have meant something to us to be passing all within a year. Sadly I know I forgot a couple and I didnt include those who were close family and friends, like my cousin Michael who was like an older brother.
Again Im laying all this out so that we take this to heart and strive to make the most out of life and try and make life for those around you betterPlus I think its important that we always take time out to reflect on those who pass. I mean really reflect and not become so hardened that we see these passings as routine. I also think we need to be honest with ourselves about whether or not we actually gotten over the passings of people from a few years back.
Ill be honest its going on 10 years and I still think about 2Pac. I recall missing Rob One when we were at his tribute. The death of Jam Master J is still fresh in everyones minds. Many still mourn over Biggie. Those loses are still being processed by many of us and it gets harder and more complicated because we get hit with all these others
As we were sitting here dealing with the passing of DJ Dusk I got word that another LA legend passed away. Michael Mixxing Moore who used to spark the airwaves with his trademark Militant Mix on a number of radio stations including KKBT. This brother was all about taking Hip Hop and using it as a tool to spark social change and bring consciousness to those who needed it most. He wasnt the first to play speeches over break beats and dope Hip Hop instrumentals. But he was among the first to do it with an unmatched focus and determination to wake folks up at a time when radio was starting to dumb people down.
Im not sure what lead to Moore’s passing. Dude was only 46 years old and I hadnt spoken to him in quite sometime. I know I got hit up on Myspace and asked to be his friend. That was on Thursday or Friday of last week and in retrospect Im not sure if it was Mike or one of his peeps. I just recall getting his email and I said soon as I get back to LA, Im gonna give dude a call. He was a big part of LA history and just never got his props. By Saturday he was gone.
Because of Moore’s militant, uncompromising stance on important issues, he wont get the shine that others will get. No one should forget him getting a helicopter and dropping flyers calling out KKBT and accusing them of being racist during the Summerjam back in the early 90s after he had a huge falling out with them. No one should ever forget the passion in that exuded when he spoke about wanting to wake folks up. He was a mentor to many including DJ Mark Luv who heads up LAs Zulu Nation chapter. Damn I wish I could find copies of his militant mixes. He made his mark and should not go unnoticed. May he RIP.
Lastly we need to make a moment of silence for an activist who set the standard and never wavered from speaking truth to power. Damu Smith out of Washington DC may not get the accolades and praise that we have given to some of our fallen Hip Hop heroes who have passed on, but Damu was a giant figure among giants. He was known all around the world.
The work that he did and continued to do up to his recent passing where he advocated for Peace and Justice with his organization Black Voices for Peace is such that it helped elevate us all. In fact when you look at what Damu Smith stood for damn near all of his life, youll note that he championed causes that have led to so many untimely deaths. Damu was about spreading Peace and promoting both spiritual and physical health.
He was the type of cat who was knee deep in the battles along the environmentalist front. Talk about beef. He was the type of cat that fought tireless in places like Louisiana and Mississippi and throughout the south demanding that unscrupulous companies not use our neighborhoods as toxic dumping grounds. He wasnt some tree hugging hippie type. He was focused on getting rid of the dangerous toxins and chemical plants that was directed at many of our communities. Damn I wish I could run down everything this cat did. This man was an incredible organizer. And when he spoke he lit up the room. Damu was one of those cats who really set the standard because he walked the walk and talked the talk and he was humble. There were very few contradictions and discrepancies with him.
The sad part about Damus passing is that because of the dumbing down we have going on in urban radio and throughout a lot of urban media in general, he wont be given a moment of silence. No deejays are gonna play his speeches or talk about his life. Hell be one of those unsung heroes who one day well realize we came this far because of the work he put in You can peep more about Damu Smith here: www.damusmith.org/
So many deaths in so short a time I cant help but think and feel that God is asking for each of us to step up our game. Weve lost so many of our heroes to violence. We gotta do more then say RIP and play a few tribute songs. We lost so many to bad health and disease, and yet many of us are continuing down the same unhealthy paths that have taken our friends and loved ones. Many of us are not spiritually fit. We say we love the people who died but how many of us take the time and effort to carry out the sound ideals and solid effective work of those we so admired? All this is a jarring wake up call. Either we wake up or start doing the right thing or well soon find ourselves doing a lot more tributes…